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How Mafias Migrate: The Case of the `Ndrangheta in Northern Italy

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What are the conditions conducive to long-term transplantation of mafia groups in new territories? This article systematically reviews a number of factors that facilitate such an outcome and then explores two attempts at transplantation by members of the Calabria-based mafia group `Ndrangheta to the town of Bardonecchia (Piedmont region) and to Verona (Veneto region). While the former case was successful, the latter failed. The article concludes that features of the local economy—the presence of significant sectors of the economy unprotected by the state and a local rather than export orientation—generate a demand for criminal protection, and successful transplantation occurs in the presence of such a demand. Generalized migration or forced resettlement of mafiosi are not sufficient to predict transplantation. The article shows that a high level of interpersonal trust among local law-abiding residents is not sufficient to hinder mafia transplantation, contrary to established theories of social capital and trust.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University Lecturer in Criminology and Official Fellow of Linacre College, Oxford University

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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